North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards 2018

Of the 12 North West Coast Research and Innovation Award categories, four were judged by the Innovation Agency, with the rest judged by our partners NIHR Clinical Research Network: North West Coast; and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast.


Here we focus on the four Innovation Agency-sponsored awards. Information about all winners can be found at:

Culture for Innovation Award

Winner: Well Halton - NHS Halton CCG

Chris Carlin of Well Halton and Halton Borough Council Community Development Manager Nicola Goodwin

Halton is part of a regional programme called Well North that aims to reduce poverty and increase entrepreneurship as a means to combat ill health. This is a 'place based' project that has been adapted differently to suit individual neighbourhoods.

Led by Halton Clinical Commissioning Group, Well Halton has taken an innovative approach, partnering with Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club to promote ways to keep well.

Local health staff and community members have been encouraged to develop ideas that tackle problems in the heart of the community.

Some other successes include: Recruiting army veterans to construct children's growing areas in schools and nurseries; taking 250 residents to an engineering day at Sci Tech Daresbury; recycling hundreds of coats for children via the Sewing Rooms project; and fixing up bikes donated by the police for local young people.

Chris Carlin of Well Halton, said: “I was extremely proud to collect the Culture for Innovation Award on behalf of Well Halton.  Our programme is all about building on the cultures of local communities in order to help local people generate their own solutions. 

“Ideas can be brought to the Well Halton Steering Group and pitched by anyone involved in the work. We are very keen to capture the ideas and passion of all the people involved and so have even commissioned a local young man to film our work. It's fantastic that non-clinical work like ours, can be considered innovative.”

Patient Safety Innovation Award

Winner: Novel nurse-led pathway for commencing haemodialysis - Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust                         

Dr Asheesh Sharma and Vicky Ashworth         

A novel, nurse-led pathway reduced deaths in the first three months of treatment for patients with kidney failure.

A team at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals used quality improvement methodology to develop a series of mandatory and personalised interventions, delivered over the first six haemodialysis sessions. The primary aims were to reduce early mortality and minimise patient distress.

Successful implementation of the pathway reduced 90-day mortality from 5.1 per cent, which is the national average, to 2 per cent. The changes also reduced patient distress from an average score of 4.3 to 2.4.

The work was undertaken with the primary aim of improving quality and safety, but has also released significant cost-savings of around £400,000 per year.

The project received some funding from the Health Foundation and is now being spread to Aintree University Hospital, with interest also expressed by other trusts.

Advanced Nurse Practitioner Vicky Ashworth said: “We used a systematic approach, engaging staff and stakeholders, reviewing data and then revamping the pathway.

“The company 2Bio helped with project management and we used a business analytic software tool to look at data and see what was improving and what wasn’t. Using this approach and the software was an eye opener for me and it has made me passionate about the importance of data.”

Consultant Nephrologist Asheesh Sharma added: “We are now developing a toolkit, having attracted further funding support from the Health Foundation, to help spread the pathway and we hope it will be adopted as best practice across the system.”

A video describing the new pathway is available on Youtube.

Transformation Award

Winner:  NWC Genomic Healthcare Alliance Education Group

Lisa Dowell, Lynn Greenhalgh and Janet Legget-Jones

Healthcare is being transformed by the development of genomics and personalised health and its movement into mainstream healthcare. The 100,000 Genome Project has been driving this and Liverpool has a wealth of research expertise in this area. The challenge in the North West Coast is ensuring patients have access to this new medicine, from areas of deprivation in Liverpool to rural isolation in South Cumbria.

Liverpool has a small Clinical Genetics Service and so uses mainstreaming throughout the NHS in our region to deliver genetics for all. However, there was a need to raise awareness of the rapid changes in healthcare and the increased need for consenting time and counselling that genomics bring into existing pathways.

This group ensured research and specialised knowledge in Liverpool was transmitted into mainstream clinical practice by educating consultants, specialist clinical nurses and general practice as well as raising awareness among public and patients.

Using the feedback from clinicians attending initial workshops to identify the best format for education, Liverpool Health Partners provided the mechanism to bring University of Liverpool research-driven education together with Liverpool Women’s Hospital clinical genetics staff.

The system is now further adapting to improve patient care. Newly educated healthcare professionals are meeting to design new pathways incorporating genetic testing in areas such as neurology, cardiology and colo-rectal cancer.

Janet Legget-Jones, Liverpool Health Partners Education Programme Manager said: “Genomics really is transforming healthcare and we are happy to accept this Transformation Award on behalf of all our hard working healthcare professionals who educate our clinicians to improve patient care in our region.”

Partnership in Innovation Award

Winner: Collaborative Partnerships – The Life Rooms

Director of Social Inclusion and Participation Michael Crilly and Operations Manager Neil Tunstall, of Mersey Care

Mersey Care Foundation Trust’s partnership with local communities and public, private and voluntary sector organisations, as well as with service users, carers and staff led to the co-creation of the Life Rooms, supporting people to live full and meaningful lives after diagnosis.

The Life Rooms, in the former Carnegie Library in Walton, had almost 20,000 visits in its first two years and has been replicated with Life Rooms Southport, with a third Life Rooms in Bootle due to open in 2019.

GPs are one of the highest referrers with over 40 surgeries and Increasing Access to Psychiatry Services signposting clients to the Life Rooms.

Services include:

  • An employment hub to help people get back into work
  • A Recovery College offering over 50 courses
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Financial and debt management advice
  • Housing support
  • A library for health and well-being
  • A free IT suite
  • A café run by a local social enterprise
  • Access to food vouchers

Jane Holland, Head of Participation and Inclusion Development at Mersey Care said: “By providing socially focussed interventions as early as possible we can potentially halt the deterioration in mental and physical health and so reduce the need for expensive clinical intervention and admission to secondary services. We see the potential to demonstrate savings to the public purse and provide substantially improved life outcomes for individuals and the wider society.”

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